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COVID-19 testing in Kern County

Two main COVID-19 test sites in Bakersfield take walk-in patients. Priority Urgent Care is testing at all their locations, and check-in can be done online. Daniella Diaz, receptionist at Accelerated Urgent Care, said its clinic on Coffee Road is now dedicated entirely to Coronavirus testing, complete with a big red tent in front for pre-screening. Accelerated will bill the insurance or a patient can self-pay $100, with the lab billing $55 later for the lab work. The turn-around time that formerly was 72 hours, Diaz said, is five to seven days because of the heavy volume.

Those who have come in to take the test are told to treat themselves as if they have the virus, to go home and self-isolate until they receive the results.

Twenty-two California public health laboratories are carrying out the testing.

Doctors are taking regular patient appointments while carrying out extra precautions. Teresa Greenhaw, office manager of the Kern Endocrine Center, which is represented in Tehachapi at Alpine Medical, said the doctors are doing televisits as well as seeing patients inside the office.

“Patients in the office are screened with temperature checks,” she said, “and there is a limit to the number of people in the office.”

She said patients are asked to come by themselves unless they need assistance. If a patient calls to report symptoms of COVID-19, they are advised to call their primary care doctor.

Health networks

The major area health networks have contacted their members with information about access to advice and care.

The Bakersfield Family Medical Center/Heritage Physician Network says that if you exhibit symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 infection – fever, cough, sore throat and increased phlegm – to first call them or your primary care physician.

In a letter to its patients, the Bakersfield Family Medical Center/Heritage Physician Network says, “Do not come to the urgent care or your primary care physician office if you are experiencing only mild symptoms. Call us first and we can triage a safe plan of care and if you need testing. Most patients will be managed under home quarantine. Only visit the ER if you are experiencing severe respiratory conditions and are having trouble breathing. Otherwise expect to be given instructions on self-care under home isolation.”

More than 80 percent of the cases will be managed at home, the statement says, as hospitals need to be reserved for the sickest patients only.

Kaiser Permanent also says to call them if you think you have symptoms or believe you have been exposed.

“Calling ahead helps us direct you to the most appropriate care and [helps you] take precautions to protect other members, patients and employees,” according to an online post from Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser also provides anxiety and stress management, including “how to talk to children in a reassuring way.”

Dignity Health instructs people to contact healthcare providers first.

“Reach out to your healthcare provider by calling ahead before visiting the office. Tell your provider that you have or may have Coronavirus-like symptoms so they can take steps to keep other people from getting infected. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have been, or are being, evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive,” according to a Dignity Health web post.

Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District

The Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District (www.tvhd.org) has an outstanding website with up-to-date information and resources, including a real-time count from Johns Hopkins University of confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries in the United States.

A message from Adventist Health Tehachapi

The California governor has issued a statewide order for people to stay at home and “shelter in place” as we do our part to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Businesses that are considered essential services, such as healthcare, will remain open. The care and safety of our patients, associates and physicians are our top priority.

With this in mind, we have instituted several measures following guidance from the CDC and state and local health departments that are designed to reduce the spread of potential disease through social distancing. Among those measures: We have postponed large community events such as health fairs, community forums and foundation galas; cancelled all community meetings hosted on our campuses until further notice; and have limited non-essential access to our hospital to protect public health.

We have modified our visitor policy. Now, no visitors are allowed on our campus except for under very limited circumstances. Patients will be encouraged to use FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp or their preferred telephone or video chat application to stay connected with their loved ones.

We have initiated a remote work policy. Any support staff we have who are not directly involved in patient care are working from home to limit any potential spread of germs.

We are performing screenings at our doors of anybody entering our building, including employees, to ensure they are healthy before entering the facility.

Clinicians are evaluating the situation daily, and these policies will remain in place until it is determined that we can return to a normal operating environment.

– Jeff Lingerfelt, Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley President

Adventist Health would also like to share the following information:

All Adventist Health locations and the system continue to be in close contact with federal, state and local agencies to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care. At Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, we have highly-trained infection prevention practitioners who closely follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the local public health department. Our hospitals manage infectious disease on a regular basis and maintain isolation rooms. Ongoing training and drills are underway on the proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment, as well as on the protocols for the identification, testing and treatment of a patient with COVID-19-like symptoms. We have enough supplies on hand to care for COVID-19 patients, and since Adventist Health hospitals are part of a system, we have access to additional supplies, expertise and support should we need it.

“We appreciate the collaboration between government, health experts and Adventist Health. Together, we are all playing an important role to address COVID-19,” said Dr. Ramesh Nathan, Adventist Health Infectious Disease Specialist.

We encourage everyone to follow the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Get a flu shot (for everyone six months or older).

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, not your hands. Throw tissues in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces. Adventist Health has established an advice line to provide information about Coronavirus. This hotline is staffed by experienced registered nurses to answer your questions about Coronavirus or concerns about visiting an Adventist Health clinic or hospital. The number is (844) 542-8840. The advice line is available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.